Warning: Did You Read The Label?

by Jay Deragon on 08/01/2008

With every passing week we’re seeing more and more conversational threads centric to all this social stuff and business implications.

McKinsey just released a study titled “Building The Web 2.0 Enterprise” which states “This year’s survey reveals continuing investments in Web 2.0. Companies that are deriving business value from these tools are now shifting from using the experimentally to adopting them as part of a broader business practice. Last year, our respondents said that their companies had adopted just over two Web 2.0 tools on average; this year, those companies have adopted two and a half from the same list and more than three from an expanded one. The survey also shows that the use of these tools is both intense and wide-tanging. Companies report they are using Web 2.0 both within and outside their walls –to forge tighter links with customers and suppliers and to engage employees more successfully.”

An April 2008 Forrester Research report predicts corporate spending to exponentially increase on Web 2.0 technologies, such as social networking, RSS syndication, blogging, wikis, mashups, podcasts, and assorted widgets.

Will Work Eventually Become Virtual?

That seems to be the question on a lot of peoples mind enough so that a global research process was recently completed to examine the implications.

The Handbook of Research on Virtual Workplaces and the New Nature of Business Practices compiles authoritative research from 51 scholars from 17 countries, covering the issues surrounding the influx of information technology to the office environment, from choice and effective use of technologies to necessary participants in the virtual workplace.

Today, online media has transformed the idea of the workplace from a physical location to, essentially, a state of mind.

Communication technologies such as e-mail and instant messaging let coworkers in different regions exchange ideas in a fraction of the time it would take to walk from one office to another. Similarly, blogs, wikis, and online chat groups allow entire teams of geographically distributed workers to discuss, debate, and update project plans on a virtually unlimited scale. These same technologies also allow companies to move distribution directly to a global consumer base via a variety of file sharing technologies and software downloads. The result is a workplace—if not an overall work paradigm—in which the office is but a mouse click away.

Will The Nature of Business Change?

While migrating to the social technologies most businesses have yet to comprehend the dynamics and people issues that enable the technology to be optimized.. Historically the word social typically meant relations between people. Business adaptation to social technologies has now advanced “social” to mean interaction with people and things. Things like products, processes and profits.

Businesses will again chase the promise of gains in practices using all this social stuff as the new method. However they will likely fail miserably if they don’t change how they relate to the people first. The Warning Label says: Don’t install this technology unless you can relate to people. Get it?

What say you?

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